Abandoned Mission

It made sense in the 1930s for the government to subsidize credit unions by letting them off the hook from paying federal income taxes. Back then, they helped at-risk communities survive hard times by expanding access to credit to those who needed it most. Large credit unions have long abandoned that mission, and today are seeking membership growth—by targeting rich people.

Abandoned mission icon

Expert Views

Erica York, Tax Foundation
“Given the change in the financial sector over the last several decades, it would be useful for lawmakers to reexamine the extent to which credit unions currently fulfill their original purpose. If they have strayed from their intended function and now resemble other taxed financial institutions, their exemption would represent a disparity across similar economic activities.” 
— Tax Foundation, 2018
Karen Shaw Petrou, Federal Financial Analytics, Inc.
“About half of all credit unions are allowed to use ‘secondary’ capital instruments generally barred for banks. Credit unions that issue this capital fail at a rate that is 362 percent greater than conservative institutions. Proposals to expand the use of these instruments thus may increase overall solvency risk in the credit-union sector, exposing members and the broader economy to risk.” 
— Federal Financial Analytics, 2019
Aaron Klein, The Brookings Institute
“But if your word is your bond, does everyone who speaks share a common bond? In that case, the concept of a common bond is meaningless. That is the direction that the nation’s credit union movement, including its federal regulator, appears to be moving — and that’s something the public and policymakers need to stop and think about.” 
— The Brookings Institution, 2017

Large Credit Unions Have Abandoned Their Mission

Recent News and Insights


This week, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will hold oversight hearings with prudential regulators. In addition to other financial services regulators, National Credit Union Administration Chairman Todd Harper will testify.


American taxpayers have once again completed their civic duty of meeting the IRS filing deadline, but for a $2.17 trillion portion of our economy – the industry comprising America’s 4,760 credit unions – April 18 was just another Tuesday.

See the impact on taxes in your state.

Tell Congress it’s time to reform credit unions.